Thursday, 1 January 2009

Norah Wellings

Norah Wellings was a very talented artist and designer of cloth dolls, she started her career with Chad Valley in 1919 and became one of their chief doll designers. Leonard Wellings her brother was also an artist and well known for his plastering skills having his own premises in Wellington, Shropshire. When Norah left Chad Valley it was Leonard who suggested Norah rent a room in his building to make Cloth Dolls and Soft Toys. Norah moved into the premises in 1926 with only six women employees and called the small factory room The Victoria Toy Works. Norah Wellings began production and the catalogues and letterheads described the company as ‘Manufacturers of Soft Fabric Toys and Novelties’. Leonard was involved in the business and promotion side of the company as well as continuing with his own plastering firm. Norah designed all of the dolls and soft toys herself. In 1927 Norah attended her first British Industry Toy Fair where her Products were shown for the first time with great success. The business grew very quickly and Leonard and Norah decided they needed larger premises and in 1929 bought a Baptist Chapel in King Street, Wellington, which was expanded and buildings added over the years. At the peak time during the 1930’s there were around 250 employees. Norah Wellings was also one of Britain’s leading doll exporters with over 70% of sales going overseas, this is why so many dolls are found world wide today. Many of the products were sold on board ship as holiday souvenirs. When Leonard Wellings died in 1959 at the age of 67 Norah had lost not only her brother but also her business partner and best friend. Norah decided it was time to retire and so on September 4th 1959 Employees were given two weeks notice and production ceased. Norah spent her retirement doing the things she enjoyed, painting, cooking and gardening, Norah Wellings died in 1975 at the age of 82.